Importance of Crop Insurance
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
Crop insurance is an important risk management tool for California farmers. California Ag Today recently spoke with Mickey Paggi about the topic. He’s an agriculture policy analyst for National Crop Insurance Services, a nonprofit trade association based in Kansas.
There are certain deadlines for getting enrolled in the programs.
“The force of the crop insurance agents that are on the ground in the areas where these crops are grown is really valuable, and they can work individually with the producer to make them aware of what they have to do when they have to do it,” Paggi said.
These agents work with the farmers and available programs to find the best fit for their operation. They cover northern, central, and southern California.
Paggi said that a good place to start if you’re looking for more information about crop insurance is the USDA Risk Management Agency. The RMA looks to increase the availability and effectiveness of federal crop insurance, which is to be used as a risk management tool.
“RMA’s vision is to secure the future of agriculture by providing world-class management tools to rural America. This website can be found at rma.udsa.gov,” he said.
“I would start … with the USDA RMA website because it actually has a link to the individual commodity coverage, and within those fact sheets, they actually have a listing of crop insurance agents within your commodity,” Paggi explained.
Proposed Federal Marketing Order Would Benefit California Dairy Farmers
By Brian German, Associate Editor
California gets hit the hardest when milk prices drop and it is the last state to recover from depressed dairy prices. The California dairy industry eagerly awaits a decision from the USDA regarding the move to a Federal Milk Marketing Order (FMMO). Chandler Goule, senior vice president of programs for the National Farmers Union, believes the state will gain from moving to FMMO.
“I think it will definitely be a win for the dairy industry,” said Goule, “and for our dairymen out there.” Goule anticipates increased participation in the margin revenue program that was incorporated into the FMMO.
Should the USDA hand down a positive determination, the move to a federal order would require a 2/3 majority vote from California dairy producers. “With California being so far from the corn and grain belt, even though you all produce a lot of food in California, it’s not necessarily feed additives for livestock,” Goule remarked.
Unfortunately, the FMMO has a much better chance of being voted in during a time when milk prices are low, according to Goule, as high milk prices may lessen voter turnout and sense of urgency.
“I’m definitely not advocating for low milk prices whatsoever,” Goule said. “We want high milk prices out there. The sooner we can get this vote done, the better off California will be, and the better off your milk prices will be. Then we can start working on this as a nation rather than 48 states—and California by itself.”
By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Communications Manager
As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous.
To help keep your holiday season healthy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations on how to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.
If you have specific food safety questions this holiday season you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.
Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:
- Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
- Buy cold foods last.
- Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate bag.
Steps to follow during food preparation:
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
- Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to ensure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 ˚F with a three minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 ˚F; ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 ˚F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 ˚F; and all poultry should be cooked to 165 ˚F.
Fool proof tips when cooking for groups:
- Keep hot food hot and cold food cold, using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 ˚F and cold items should remain below 40 ˚F.
- Use several small plates when serving food.
- Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more.
Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:
- Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
- Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
- To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 F, the roast is safe to eat.
- Remember all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three minute rest time before cutting or consuming.
Consumers can learn more about key food safety practices at Foodsafety.gov and follow @USDAFoodSafety on Twitter. Consumers with questions about food safety, can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.
The USDA announced that nearly 2,500 applicants will receive disaster assistance through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) for losses suffered from October 1, 2011, through September 30, 2013.
The program, re-authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provides disaster relief to livestock, honeybee, and farm-raised fish producers not covered by other agricultural disaster assistance programs. Eligible losses may include excessive heat or winds, flooding, blizzards, hail, wildfires, lightning strikes, volcanic eruptions, and diseases, or in the case of honeybees, losses due to colony collapse disorder. Beekeepers, most of whom suffered honeybee colony losses, represent more than half of ELAP recipients.
“As promised, we’re making sure that thousands of producers who suffered through two and a half difficult years without Farm Bill assistance, are getting some relief,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Once the Farm Bill was restored, not only did we implement the disaster assistance programs in record time, we’re issuing payments less than three months after the enrollment deadline. The funds will hopefully help producers with some of the financial losses they sustained during that time.”
The Farm Bill caps ELAP disaster funding at $20 million per federal fiscal year. To accommodate the number of requests, which exceeded funds available for each of the affected years, payments will be reduced to ensure that all eligible applicants receive a prorated share of assistance.
ELAP was made possible through the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
To learn more about USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) disaster assistance programs, visit the FSA factsheet page at www.fsa.usda.gov/factsheets or contact your local FSA office at http://go.usa.gov/pYV3.
CDFA Has Saturated Exeter Area with Extra ACP Detection Traps
The Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s offices announed TODAY that two additional Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) have been detected on one trap south of the city of Exeter. The latest interceptions were confirmed by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Maps and current information are available on the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner’s website.
CDFA has already begun to saturate the affected areas with detection traps in order to determine the extent of any infestation.The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) and CDFA will work collaboratively to determine what steps are taken next.
The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected. The diseased tree will decline in health,producing bitter, misshaped fruit untilitdies. To date, HLB has been detected on just one residential property in the Hacienda Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Tulare County Ag Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita said that her staff will continue to support the efforts of our $750 million citrus industry, as well as our residential citrus owners. “I want to emphasize that citrus fruit is safe to eat and the disease is not harmful to human health,” said Kinoshita.
Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACPs are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899 or the Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner.
Media inquiries related to technical questions about Asian citrus psyllid and Huanglongbing (HLB) disease are encouraged to contact Katie Rowland, Account Coordinator for Nuffer, Smith, Tucker Inc. at (661) 817-3638.
The best way to fight HLB is to suppress the spread of ACPs which can carry it. So, California Citrus Research Board hired Nuffer, Smith, Tucker, (NST) a public relations firm, to raise awareness of ACPs and HLB, especially among the many California homeowners with backyard citrus trees who may unknowingly be harboring the pest, and to encourage the public to take necessary steps to save California citrus.
NST’s comprehensive outreach plan included the formation of a dedicated website; outreach to stakeholder groups; public service announcement development; radio news release distribution; traffic spot placement; elected official education; participation in community events; social media outreach; and heavy media relations, including statewide media tours in English and Spanish. Outreach results include over 100 billion impressions in 2012 alone, briefings with 365 local government and elected officials in 110 cities, and CDFA reported an increase in phone calls to the ACP hotline. For further information, click on CitrusInsider.org and CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.
Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California, launched its new Almond Board blog, almonds.com, TODAY, with the inaugural post (dated 7/22/14), “The Almond Board of California is a What? Understanding Federal Marketing Orders.”
Back in 1950, almond growers asked the United States Department of Agriculture to approve a Federal Marketing Order, so they could all work together to improve the quality and marketing of their crop. The Almond Board of California was born. A lot has changed since our establishment 64 years ago, including a name change (we used to be called the Almond Control Board) and the broadening of our programs from what initially was just quality standards compliance. Today, we call ourselves an agricultural promotion group.
In their current form, agricultural promotion groups are made up of farmers – in our case growers and handlers – who work together to educate consumers and to research, innovate and promote what they produce.
While you may have never heard of us before, these groups are part of an American tradition and are ingrained in our culture. Whether it’s the dancing California raisins, “Got Milk?,” “Incredible Edible Egg,” “Pork: The Other White Meat” or “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner,” agricultural promotion groups have created and funded these campaigns. (By the way, have you seen our own “Crunch On” ad campaign that was launched in 2013?)
Different ag promotion groups work in different ways, but essentially they are founded and funded by industry members. They are not funded by taxpayers, which is an occasional misconception. Each year almond handlers contribute money to fund Almond Board marketing and research programs. We develop our own programs and direct our own research, with the USDA providing oversight and review of all external messaging, to make sure they are accurate and comply with FDA and FTC regulations.
At the Almond Board of California, we have worked hard not only to help our favorite nut overcome certain negative perceptions due to their oil content, but more importantly to become the number one nut that surveyed North American consumers associate with being nutritious and heart healthy.*† By creating demand for almonds, we work to build global markets for California Almond growers and handlers.
In terms of research, we have funded $42 million in almond quality and food safety, nutrition, environmental, and production research since 1973. From developing a new nutritional supplement for our pollinators – the honeybee – to improving water efficiency by 33 percent per pound of almonds produced over the last two decades, the Almond Board constantly strives to be a stellar guardian of the natural resources that almond growers and handlers employ to produce one of the finest foods in the world.
Click here to learn more about the Almond Board of California.
*ABC North American Attitudes, Awareness and Usage Study, 2013
†Good news about almonds and heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and 1g of saturated fat.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced yesterday that California has been allocated $19.76 million in funding for the 2014 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). The agency awarded approximately $66 million nationwide for projects that help support growers of specialty crops through research, market development, environmental stewardship and more.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program is designed to enhance the markets for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.
“California’s leadership in the production and development of specialty crops is due in large part to the innovative nature of our growers,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The research, market development and other projects supported by this partnership with USDA help keep our farmers on the cusp of innovations from food safety to stewardship, from identifying niche markets to expanding international exports.”
Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the 2014 grant cycle. In 2013, CDFA was awarded approximately $18 million and solicited competitive proposals for projects including market enhancement, agriculture education, nutrition, and research. The 64 projects funded under the 2013 SCBGP reflect the diversity of California’s specialty crops across the state, including: creating economic opportunities for specialty crop producers through market development activities that focus on local, regional, or international markets; development of effective agritourism associations to enhance rural tourism and promote specialty crops; food safety benefits and training programs; growing community food systems in underserved neighborhoods; online irrigation nitrogen management tool for cool season vegetables; and research to mitigate impacts of invasive pests.
In addition, CDFA partnered with the Center for Produce Safety in the evaluation and recommendation of food safety related projects. These proactive research projects represent an ongoing effort to minimize outbreaks.
Information about the program, including California’s 2013 projects, is available online at www.cdfa.ca.gov/grants. Stay tuned for future announcements regarding the development and submission of proposals for the grant funds announced today. The USDA announcement, including award amounts by state, is available online at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2014/04/0064.xml&contentidonly=true.
USDA posted the following:
Our dedication to strengthening rural America and increasing opportunities for specialty crop farmers will help keep our nation’s economy—and people—healthy for years to come.
As directed by the Farm Bill, USDA block grants are now allocated to U.S. States and territories based on a formula that takes into consideration both specialty crop acreage and production value. Nearly all states are seeing an increase in funds.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) encourages applicants to develop projects that enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, sustain the livelihood of American farmers, and strengthen rural economies by:
• Increasing nutritional knowledge and specialty crop consumption among children and adults,
• Improving efficiency within the distribution system,
• Promoting the development of good agricultural, handling and manufacturing practices while encouraging audit cost-sharing for small farmers, packers, and processors,
• Supporting research through standard and green initiatives,
• Enhancing food safety,
• Developing new/improved seed varieties and specialty crops,
• Controlling pests and diseases,
• Creating organic and sustainable production practices,
• Establishing local and regional fresh food systems,
• Expanding access to specialty crops in underserved communities,
• Developing school and community gardens and farm-to-school programs,
Enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crop farmers, including Native American and disadvantaged farmers.